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25 February 2002

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  • Almodovar Talks to Euro theatres for premiere

    Pedro Almodovar's eagerly anticipated new film Talk To Her (Hable Con Ella) will not receive its world premiere at one of this year's top film festivals as might be expected. Instead promotion will focus initially on just three key European territories so that the director can get back to work on his next project, the long-gestating Bad Education (La Mala Educacion).'The 'leitmotif' of our releasing strategy is a concentration on the principal territories in order to free
  • Amelie's Jeunet honoured at ShoWest

    Jean-Pierre Jeunet, directorof the Academy Award-nominated Amélie - the most successful French film everreleased in North America - will be honoured at ShoWest next month with theInternational Achievement in Filmmaking Award. He will receive his award inperson on March 4th, at the International Day Luncheon. Amélie's latest honour were its five Academy Awardnominations, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay,co-written by Jean-Pierre J
  • Artist House buys Morvern Callar for Japan

    Artist House, the Japanese publishing group, is set to make an imprint both as both new buyer and seller. It has already acquired Japanese rights to LynneRamsay's Cannes-bound Morvern Callar and is now embarking on its own production of TheTesseract, starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Saskia Reeves.Along with its specialistfeatures arm Artist Film, the group is selling Woman Of Water (Mizu No Onna) which was a Sundance/NHK International prize-winner. The film
  • Baader

    Dir: Christopher Roth. Germany. 2002. 129mins.As all Sixties survivors know, that decade had nothing to do with political protest. This portrait of Andreas Baader, the founder, with Ulrike Meinhof, of the notorious Baader-Meinhof group, reveals what it was really about: spouting vague revolutionary slogans, listening to some rather good music (in this film, Trans Am, Can), looking cool in shades and leather jackets and smoking a prodigious number of cigarettes. Int
  • Beckham to shoot first in UK, then score in US

    UK sales company The Works is holding back on a US sale on Bend It Like Beckham until after its UK theatrical debut, following a rapturously-received advance screening in London.UK distributor Helkon SK is now looking at releasing Gurinder Chadha's low-budget drama comedy on a hefty 430 prints in April. The filmmakers aim to secure a Cannes slot, possibly following in Billy Elliot's ballet steps into the Directors Fortnight.Producer Deepak Nayar first decided to wa
  • Berlusconi controversy builds to a climax

    The controversial debate over Silvio Berlusconi's conflict of interest law, to be held in the Italian parliament this week, is set to co-incide with a 100,000-strong mass protest against the government in Rome. Justice Minister Roberto Castelli has expressed fears that the event could develop into violence. Last weekend, 40,000 demonstrators protested against the government in Milan.While protests have been fuelled by a number of government policies, the debate over conflict of
  • Boorman's wizardry casts Overseas spell

    Director John Boorman is going back to Camelot with Knight's Castle, a $35m family fantasy movie about a boy's quest for Excalibur, being financed byFirst Look Media and Cinerenta.Based on the book by Edward Eager, the film is being produced with Boorman and Kevin Corrigan's Merlin Films and sold internationally by First Look's international sales arm Overseas Filmgroup.Tony Grisoni, who scripted both Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas and Good Omens for
  • British Academy bestows awards on Fellowship

    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring was the big winner at last night's British Academy Film Awards with five awards including best film and best director for Peter Jackson.Moulin Rouge, which like Lord Of The Rings had 12 nominations, went away with three lower profile prizes - best supporting actor for Jim Broadbent, best music and best sound.But the main prizes were still spread across several films. Russell Crowe won best actor for A Beau
  • Bullish MDP Worldwide posts records results

    MDP WorldwideEntertainment, Mark Damon's production and sales outfit which is listedon the Toronto Stock Exchange, has reported its highest ever financial resultsfor the year ending Sept 30,2001. MDP reports a net profit of $3.6m onoperating revenues of $53.6m, a rise of 427% from the previous fiscal year.Earnings pershare were up $0.03 as opposed to a loss of $0.17 the previous year. Vicepresident of finance Devin Cutler was pleased to point out in a statement issuedyesterday that the
  • Canada's first VOD service launched by Rogers

    Rogers Communications will launch Canada's first video-on-demand service. The company's cable subsidiary, Canada's largest operator, has signed a long-term pact with Alliance Atlantis Communications (AAC) to distribute its films over the new service in the VOD window, which follows the home video window by approximately 45-60 days. The initial phase of deployment is currently underway in areas of Toronto, with full service expected to be implemented in Toronto by early summer. The non-
  • Cash crunch hits Portugal's producers

    The Portuguese film industry is beginning to feel the effects of the growing financial difficulties within the nation's broadcasters. The global slump in advertising has hit this corner of Europe particularly hard, with one Portuguese television executive estimating a 40% drop in the market in recent months.Pedro Berhan da Costa, president of the state film institute ICAM, says the funding body suffers as a direct result. "In our budget two-thirds of revenues come from television adver
  • Columbia TriStar buys international on Mindhunters

    Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group has acquired the majority of international rights to Renny Harlin's action thriller Mindhunters from Intermedia. CTSMPG bought rights in France, Italy, the UK, Japan, Korea, Latin America and Australia & New Zealand among other territories to the movie that is being distributed by Dimension Films in North America.In the film, which is co-produced by Intermedia-based Outlaw Productions and Cary Brokaw's Avenue Pictures, seven new FBI r
  • Coscia takes charge of Argentina's film institute

    Local filmmaker Jorge Coscia takes over the reins of Argentina's national film institute INCAA this week, filling a void that left the state-backed entity in limbo and many film productions in the lurch. Coscia replaces Jose Miguel Onaindia who resigned following the ouster of President Fernando de la Rua in December. Coscia, who directed nine films of which he wrote the screenplays for six, has pledged to retain the institute's annual budget of $15.5m (31m pesos) and keep Argentina's
  • Culkin kills for Party Monster role

    Macauley Culkin is in final negotiations to star as Michael Alig in Party Monster, the movie about the notorious murdering New York party promoter that is being produced by Killer Films and sold internationally by Fortissimo Film Sales. Ed Pressman and JohnSchmidt's ContentFilm has also come on board as co-financier and will handle North American rights.Seth Green willplay Alig's best friend James St James in the film which is to be directed byaward-winning documentary film-make
  • Deakins wins ASC award for Man Who Wasn't There

    Roger Deakins won theAmerican Society Of Cinematographers (ASC) Outstanding Achievement Award in thefeature film category for his work on The Man Who Wasn't There, the sixth film by the Coen brothers which Deakinshas shot. It was also his sixth ASC nomination and his second award after TheShawshank Redemption in 1994.He beat out an internationalfield comprised of Bruno Delbonnel (Amelie), Andrew Lesnie (The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring), Don
  • Denmark's DFL to develop system for Microsoft

    Denmark's Digital Film Lab (DFL) has moved into a new direction with a contract from Microsoft Corp./LA to develop the implementation of High Definition in a future version of the Windows Media Player. 'To be recognised as the right partner to carry out development for Microsoft has been a very important step for us,' says Kris Kolodziejski, CEO of DFL. 'Our strength is the calibration and management of high-resolution systems for digital postproduction, and we had a very interesting w
  • Dragonfly

    Dir Tom Shadyac. US. 2002. 104min.The Mothman Prophecies meets Patch Adams in Dragonfly, a preposterously plotted, highly sentimental supernatural thriller that lacks suspense or credibility even on its own terms. A star vehicle for Kevin Costner, who has not had a decent role in a long time, this manipulative hokum is another Hollywood picture that tries to cash in on the success of The Sixth Sense, the film that began the current cycle of superna
  • Eclipse announces new worldwide sales arm

    Eclipse Entertainment has launched Eclipse Releasing, a new worldwide sales company to handle product from the publicly-traded Eclipse Entertainment Group, with Sridhar Sreekakula supervising sales. Sreekakula was formerly a sales executive at Menahem Golan's 21st Century Film Corporation, at Southern Star Film Sales and at Titan Films International.First title for Eclipse is Ancient Warriors starring Franco Columbu, Daniel Baldwin, Richard Lynch and model Michelle Hunzik
  • Fantasporto unveils new film festival of Gaia

    The organisers of Portugal's premiere film festival, Fantasporto, have unveiled plans to launch a new annual event, the International Film Festival of Gaia, with a first edition scheduled for June 14-22, 2002.Set in the neighbouring city of Oporto, the Gaia festival will be non genre-specific, thus setting it apart from the fantastic and sci-fi oriented Fantasporto. The new event is intended as a "launching pad in Portugal for films from around the world," according to Mario Dorminsky,
  • Female Gangster flick clicks with Japan's KNACK

    Sales house Cineclick Asia has secured a major Japanese deal on one of its bigger titles and is now shooting to become a heavyweight player outside its native Korea.It sold Japanese rights on female gangster tale My Wife Is A Gangster to KNACK, a company more usually associated with animation production. The value of the deal is set in the region of $1.75m - not far short of the film's $2.4m published budget.The picture, which was released in Korea in September and grosse
  • First Look to steer Loach's Navigators in US

    First Look Pictures (FLP) has struck a deal with UK-basedsales outfit The Works to buy North American distribution rights to Ken Loach'sThe Navigators, which played at theVenice Film Festival last year. FLP is planning a summer theatrical release for the film whichwill then go to video and DVD through First Look Home Entertainment in the autumn. First Look's president MJ Peckos negotiated the deal with Joy Wong, head of international sales for The Works.
  • Fonlupt dives into Kormakur's The Sea with Flach

    Former Ciby 2000 executiveJean-Francois Fonlupt's Emotion Pictures is teaming with Blue Eyes Productions for The Sea, the nexteffort from 101 Reykjavikdirector Baltasar Kormakur. Eric Lagesse, head of Flach Pyramide International, whorecently picked up the film for global sales enthuses, 'It'ssomething hot from a cold place!' Indeed, the film is anIceland-set project that combines 'a very particular humor, strength andintimacy that you don't see e
  • Fortissimo celebrates strong AFM deals

    Fortissimo Film Sales celebrated a successful AFM with sales of Tsai Ming-liang's Cannes 2001 competition film What Time Is It There' to the ICA for the UK and Pegasos for Germany. The ICA also bought Iwai Shinji's All About Lily Chou Chou. Japanese film Hush! Went to Crown Films for Taiwan and Pop Asia Entertainment for Korea. The Pang brothers' Bangkok Dangerous was sold to Mediaset for Italy, while Cannes-tipped Springtime In A Small Town
  • French industry unites over TV regulation concerns

    French broadcasting group AB has denied accusations of intending to avoid the national content quota and other broadcasting regulations by transmitting its planned new movie channels from Luxembourg."We will broadcast from Luxembourg because we have a technical platform there", AB's chairman, Claude Berda told French publication Satellifax. However, various French film industry bodies, such as talents' and producers' group ARP, producers' union UPF and film industry unions' ass
  • Gaga weighs major investment in live-action Tekken

    Japan's Gaga Communications is in talks to co-produce a live-action feature version of Namco's hit game Tekken with Namco and the US production Crystal Sky Entertainment.Currently in pre-production, Tekken is scheduled to go before the cameras in April 2003 and be released worldwide in 2005 at a reported overall budget of $60m."Given the success of Tomb Raider which generated, $130m on a production budget of $100m, we and our partners feel comfortable putting
  • Germany's Helkon must release titles through BVI

    The German office of Buena Vista International (BVI) has obtained a temporary injunction from a Munich regional court preventing Helkon Media from distributing The Musketeer or Rollerball either directly in-house or through third party distributors. In January, Helkon had announced that it was terminating its agreement with BVI for handling the booking and billing of the German theatrical release of its films after quitting a TV output agreement at the end of last year.
  • GMI cleans out Bedroom, as buyers hail Hero

    Even before he arrived at this week's American Film Market, David Linde and his Good Machine International (GMI) had closed a large range of sales already on new titles Hero, Ash Wednesday and Zhou Yu's Train, as well as completing worldwide sales on Oscar-nominated drama In The Bedroom.UniversalPictures bought In The Bedroom for Germany and Japan and Bac Films bought French rights on InThe Bedroom, ZhangYimou's historical martial arts epic
  • GMI picks up Lisa Cholodenko's Laurel Canyon

    Good MachineInternational has acquired all international rights to Laurel Canyon, the new film from Lisa Cholodenko (HighArt) which stars FrancesMcDormand, Kate Beckinsale, Christian Bale, Natascha McElhone and AlessandroNivola. Sony PicturesClassics has domestic rights to the picture which is the story of astraight-laced PHD student (Beckinsale) who moves to Los Angeles with herfiance (Bale) and becomes involved with his free-spirited mother (McDormand).GMI president Dav
  • Gruber Films gathers Momentum, Film Council deals

    Gruber Films, the UK production outfit of Shooting Fish and Waking Ned producer Richard Holmes, has struck development deals with support body the Film Council and UK distribution-production operation Momentum Pictures.Holmes, who stepped down as managing director of media concern Civilian Content at the end of last year, has also struck a debt and equity financing deal with The Bonaparte Group, which arranged financing on Waking Ned. Bonaparte will take a stake in
  • Harry Potter is the number two movie of all time

    Harry Potter & TheSorcerer's Stone officiallybypassed Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace over the weekend to become the number two movie ofall time after Titanic. TheWarner Bros movie, known in many territories as Harry Potter & ThePhilosopher's Stone, has nowgrossed a worldwide total of $926.1, eclipsing the $922.8m scored by theLucasfilm prequel in 1999.Harry Potter, whose first sequel The Chamber Of Secrets is all set for release at T
  • Hong Kong's Emperor reveals five-picture slate

    Hong Kong's Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG), which is on its way towards becoming one of the territory's major studios has unveiled a new five picture development slate.The company, which is now wrapping Jackie Chan comedy-action vehicle The Highbinders, has set Swordbearer, a $20m martial arts drama as the next project for Highbinders director Gordon Chan. The Chinese-language film, which is billed as a tale of friendship, honour and duty in ancient China, w
  • Hong Kong's Han revives classic Chinese vampire

    Han Entertainment, the Hong Kong-based multimedia company established by former Media Asia head Thomas Chung and Michelle Yeoh, has added a contemporary take on the classic Chinese vampire genre to its burgeoning development slate.The project, entitled Jiang Shi, is being scripted by French writers Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtiaud, who also co-wrote Han's $20m debut production The Touch. Despite its Mandarin name, Chung expects Jiang Shi to be a mostly En
  • Italy's state-backed film fund is cut by 50%

    The Italian film industry has lost almost 50% of its state funding for local production, following an announcement by cultural minister Giuliano Urbani. The cut, from Euros 97.5m in 2001 to this year's budget of Euros 55.5m, is part of a widespread reduction in government funding for entertainment.Urbani said the budget cut was an "emergency measure" needed to meet the increased costs of new live theatre regulations. While cinema suffered the greatest budget cuts of all the arts, the t
  • Jackie Chan sci-fi actioner tops Media Asia slate

    Media Asia, under the new management of hotels andentertainment investor Peter Lam, has unveiled a far-reaching development slatefor 2002-3, headed by $40m Jackie Chan picture, Titanium Rain, a sci-fi action title. The futuristic picture has atimeframe of over 400 years and is set in China and outer space. Production isdue to begin at the end of 2002 with delivery timed to allow a release forChinese New Year (February) 2004. Media Asia is in early discussions withseveral US stud
  • Japan's Toei to focus on DVD business

    Toei, Japan's leading video rental distributor, is to follow the example set by Blockbuster last year (Screendaily Sept 12, 2001) and shift its focus to DVDs.The company plans to release 30 classic film titles on DVD and place them, along with its existing DVD library in 4,000 rental outlets by April, compared with the 2,700 stores that currently stock its product. Among the new DVD releases are Abashiri Jail, Red Peony Gambler and other classic Toei gangster films
  • Klockworx girds for Iron Ladies' return

    Japan's Klockworx has become the first buyer to commit to Iron Ladies: The Early Years, the new picture to be handled by Fortissimo Film Sales.The film, to be directed by Yongyooth Thongkonthun, is both a sequel and a prequel to his smash Thai comedy The Iron Ladies. The original film ' sold to more than 50 territories ' was based on the true story of the Thai male volleyball team which was populated largely by gays and trans-sexuals.Production is once again by Vis
  • Korea's Nabi Pictures launches with epic roster

    Jo Min-whan, the producer behind Korea's epic, Musa The Warrior, has launched a new production company and a slate that includes the most expensive Korean film of all time.The production roster of Jo's new outfit, Nabi Pictures, is headed by Musa director Kim Sung-soo's new project 625, an epic war film. The budget is set to exceed that of Musa, which had a combined production and P&A budget of more than $7m. Kim will shoot the picture in early 2003 after co
  • Madonna's Maverick Pictures teams with Splendid

    Splendid Pictures, the new production and sales outfit formed on the merger of Germany's Splendid Medien and LA-based Cutting Edge Entertainment, has announced its first-look deal with Maverick Films, the film production arm of Madonna's company Maverick.Splendid will finance and produce Maverick's projects for the next year with an option to renew. Those projects include Bear Force, a pitch, which Splendid recently bought from Maverick that will be produced as a big-budget feat
  • Malaga fest honours Cuerda and Marsillach

    The Spanish Film Festival of Malaga is set to pay tribute to director-producer Jose Luis Cuerda and actor Adolfo Marsillach at its fifth annual edition, to be held a month earlier than usual this year (April 26 to May 4).Acclaimed director of 1999's Butterfly (La Lengua De Las Mariposas) and 1987's The Enchanted Forest (El Bosque Animado), Cuerda is also known internationally as the producer who discovered director Alejandro Amenabar. Cuerda backed Amenabar's Thesis, O
  • Mar del Plata continues despite cash crisis

    Argentina's Mar del Plata International Film Festival will push ahead this year despite the country's deep economic crisis. 'We need to keep the festival going even more than ever, it would be a shame if it lost its A-list festival status as a result of its cancellation, ' said festival director Claudio Espana. Working under the lowest budget ever granted to it ($450,000 (900,000 pesos) ), the festival plans to focus on films alone and do away with parties, the red carpet and additional ent
  • Marry A Rich Man has box office benefits

    Hong Kong production Marry A Rich Man took pole position at the local box office over the competitive Chinese New Year holiday period, grossing $1.53m from 31 screens (Feb 8-14) and beating Monsters, Inc. to the top spot.The romantic comedy, produced by Hong Kong start-up SML, was released on Feb 7 in five Chinese-speaking territories to coincide with the New Year holiday celebrations (Feb 12-14).In Malaysia, it came in second behind Collateral Damage with $
  • MGM joins Korean remake rush

    Korean seller Cineclick Asia has sold Hollywood remake rights on its hit martial arts comedy Hi Dharma to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).The film, about conflict and compromise between gangsters and some ass-kicking monks, was one of the top five in Korea last year, scoring a gross of $20.4m from its 207-print Nov 7 release.MGM is understood to have paid some $300,000 for the rights, according to AFM sources not related to either company. The deal was negotiated by Suh Young-j
  • Michael Jackson to make movies with Mark Damon

    Michael Jackson is gettinginto film production through an unlikely alliance with international salesveteran Mark Damon. The pop superstar's Neverland Entertainment willinvest between $15m and $20m in Damon's production, financing and salesoutfit MDP Worldwide Entertainment Inc which is publicly traded on the TorontoStock Exchange.The agreement will seeNeverland become a major shareholder in MDP and will encompass all ofMDP's film production. MDP's production arm will be calledNeverland
  • MIFED plans two-day market extension

    Following a meeting with representatives of several AFMA-affiliated sales companies at the AFM, the organisers of MIFED are considering adding two days to the end of the autumn sales market.The Milan market, which is currently scheduled for Nov 3-7, would only become longer if the London Screenings were to become significantly diminished. That seems a real possibility with many sellers wanting to end the dual London-Mifed structure for reasons of cost and convenience.Elena Lloy
  • Mimi Steinbauer is new sales head at Franchise

    Following the departureof Lisa Wilson to join Splendid Pictures, Franchise Pictures has hireddistribution veteran Mimi Steinbauer as its new president of internationaldistribution. She will be responsible for selling territorial rights for all ofFranchise's films as well as films produced by the company'sarthouse label Franchise Classics.She will alsooversee the company's delivery and servicing departments and allcontracts and administration. Among the films she will be handling at AFM
  • Miramax gets in family way with Keystone

    Miramax Filmsand its genre releasing company Dimension Films have signed a multi-year,multi-picture co-financing agreement for family entertainment projects producedby Keystone Entertainment. Miramax is the distributor of Keystone's family filmfranchise Air Bud.Under the deal, Miramax has the optionto acquire US rights to Keystone's movies and has agreed to release a minimumof two of Keystone's family films per year over the next three years.Keystone is run by filmmaker R
  • Miramax sells to two new German distributors

    Miramax International has closed two new distribution deals in Germany with buyers it has never sold movies to before: Andreas Klein's Splendid Medien and AndreasFallscheer's brand new outfit Falcon Entertainment.Splendid boughtGerman rights to James Mangold's Kate & Leopold starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman,while Falcon took rights to David Zucker's comedy The Guest starring Ashton Kutcher and Tara Reid,and to Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio which stars Benigni and h
  • Miramax teams with FilmFour, Wolves on Actors

    The UK's FilmFour and Stephen Woolley and Neil Jordan's production outfit Company Of Wolves have teamed with Miramax Films on Conor McPherson's The Actors, a comedy starring Michael Caine, Dylan Moran, Michael Gambon, Lena Headey, Miranda Richardson and Ricky Gervais.FilmFour International will handle international sales, while Miramax has taken North American rights. Regular FilmFour partner Senator Film Production will handle German speaking territories, while FilmFour Distrib
  • Monday Morning (Lundi Matin)

    Dir: Otar Iosselliani. Fr/It, 2002. 122 mins.The first ten minutes of Georgian director Otar Iosselliani's delicate new film break all those script workshop rules about snappy, cut-to-the-chase montage. We see a man getting up, having breakfast, going downstairs, crossing a muddy yard, getting into his car, driving, parking, catching the train from a suburban station, getting on a bus, and arriving outside the gates of the factory where he works as a welder: all in laborious
  • Monsters, Inc. fights off Ali and Ocean's 11

    The UK chart saw two strong openings over the weekend but neither could challenge computer-animated holdover Monsters, Inc. for the top spot.Michael Mann's Ali, distributed by Entertainment, launched on a limited release of 17 sites to land twelfth position with $179,904 (£125,573). No doubt boosted by its two acting Academy Award nominations last week and sporting an impressive screen average of $10,583, the opening figures for the Will Smith starrer bode well for i
  • Murdoch's Star goes theatrical across Asia

    Star TV, Rupert Murdoch's pan-Asian satellite broadcast group, is making a major play to become a theatrical film distribution and production player across Asia.Under the management of the former Media Asia deputy general manager Peter Poon and production head group Michael Mak, the outfit has launched Fortune Star Pictures Limited.Stressing the quality of distribution ahead of a production imperative, the offshoot aims to replicate the network of direct distribution operations
  • Myriad on the road with Coppola's Zoetrope

    Myriad Pictures and Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope unveiled three new films yesterday to be financed and sold in international territories by Myriad, which has taken over the ten-picture Zoetrope slate from financially troubled VCL. United Artists handles domestic rights on the film.They are Zoetrope's long-delayed On The Road, a film of Jack Kerouac's cult novel to be directed by Joel Schumacher; Kinsey, a biography of sexual revolutionary Alfred Kinsey written and di
  • Myriad romps with Neil Jordan's Borgia

    Myriad Pictureswill finance Borgia,the next film from Neil Jordan, which is being produced by Jordan's producingpartner Stephen Woolley and Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey ofImage Movers. Jordan - who isalso involved as a producer ConorMcPherson's The Actors (seeseparate story) - wrote the script which follows thenotorious Borgia family and their rise to power in Italy in the 16th Century.Myriad is fullyfinancing the film and working with ICM on the N
  • New French buyer debuts with Filmax titles

    The paint may still be wet on the shingle, but brand new production and distribution company Wild Side Films has made two purchases in its first market outing. By picking up Second Name and Oblivion from Spanish mini-major Filmax, the new company announces its arrival on the international market scene.Second Name is a feature from Paco Plaza currently in post-production. Nacho Cerda will start shooting Oblivion in November. Both directors are first-timers fr
  • New Latin buying group bids on seven big titles

    Sun Distribution Group, a new Latin American buying consortium, has made its debut at the AFM with bids for up to seven of the largest films on offer, it says. The Buenos Aires-based distributor aims to acquire all Latin American rights to around eight theatrical titles its first year and eventually average a dozen per annum.Comprised of five Argentinean players led by CEO Diego Halabi, Sun Distribution includes brothers Tomas and Sebastian Darcyl whose company Telefilm Argentina has b
  • Nothing Is Everything for Hadida's Metropolitan

    Senator International has sold French rights on the Vincenzo Natali directed Nothing to Samuel Hadida's Metropolitan Filmexport. The film, which Senator is financing with Japan's Klockworx, is currently in pre-production while Natali finishes Company Man for Pandora and Miramax. A May start is possible.The Canadian Natali has seen his star rise in the past few years after scoring big with 1997 sleeper Cube. Hadida famously purchased that film for $100,000 and turn
  • NZ's Rialto to enter Australian distribution

    New Zealand distributor Rialto Entertainment is to directly distribute into Australia for the first time with the release of the Academy Award nominee for best foreign language film, Danis Tanovic's No Man's Land on April 25, followed mid-year by NZ director Christine Jeff's Rain.Rain has grossed $210,000 (NZ$500,000) in its own market for distributor Stagedoor Entertainment, meaning it is closing on last year's biggest local hit Stickmen. The film screened in Dire
  • On_Line

    Dir: Jed Weintrob. USA. 2001. 85mins.A romantic comedy about a group of young New Yorkers looking for sex and possibly even love on the Internet, On_Line offers a refreshing alternative to such feeble Hollywood attempts to milk the theme as the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie You've Got Mail. Shot in early 2001, Jed Weintrob's rather self-consciously hip film inevitably falls short of its cutting-edge ambitions, and its grungy, low-budget look excludes broader commercial pote
  • Optimum raps with Biggie & Tupac, Lawless Heart

    UK independent distributor Optimum Releasing has acquired the UK rights to veteran documentarian Nick Broomfield's Sundance hit, Biggie And Tupac, in a deal struck with Luc Roeg of the Artists Independent Network . Lions Gate Films has domestic rights on the film.The film investigates the still unsolved murders of rap superstars Christopher Wallace (aka "Biggie Small", the Notorious B.I.G) and Tupac Shakur, and was screened as a Premiere in Park City this year.Optimum's p
  • Oz pay-TV players call for Hollywood price sanity

    Kim Williams, the new chief executive of Australia's dominant pay-TV player Foxtel, has called on the Hollywood studios that supply his industry to stop "pricing us into oblivion."Instead, Williams asked his US film suppliers to work with the Australian pay TV sector to find a new commercial model that replaces per subscriber costs with a system that ensures a greater volume of subscribers and greater pay-TV penetration. This, he said, would be in the long-term interests of both the lo
  • Oz tax smallprint reveals gov't 'runaway' hopes

    With its recent introduction of a new scheme regulating the "refundable tax offset", the Australian government now anticipates that the level of runaway films shooting in Australia will increase to 10 per year within five years and have a total value of $440.3m (A$850m), with $253.8m (A$490m) of this spent in Australia. Australian crews and facilities have serviced several high-profile US films such as The Matrix and Star Wars, but total numbers of blockbusters have alway
  • Pathe signs writer for Newell's Seven Fires

    The UK's PathePictures has signed Randi Mayem Singer, the writer of last year's blockbusterMrs Doubtfire, to write the screenplay for The Seven Fires Of Mademoiselle, the film of Esther Vilar's novel whichMike Newell is to direct.Judy Counihanand Lila Rawlings' Pearl Pictures is producing the film which is set inKennedy-era Washington DC and is the story of a young French au pair who ispursued by the capital's most eligible bachelors and falls for the local firechief. The story
  • Polone partners up with Senator Int'l, Screen Gems

    Gavin Polone,whose latest picture Panic Room opens in March, is the latest producer to source financing fromthe international marketplace, teaming up with Senator International todevelop, acquire, produce and distribute a slate of pictures. But unlike many such deals, Polone's company Pariah and Senator have guaranteed domesticdistribution through a second alliance with his Panic Room partner Columbia Pictures and itsmid-budget releasing division Screen Gems.
  • Poon joins Hong Kong's Fortune Star Pictures

    Peter Poon has joined Hong Kong-based broadcaster Star TV as general manager of Chinese-language programming division, Fortune Star Pictures.Poon was formerly deputy general manager at Hong Kong's Media Asia Group, where he took particular responsibility for international distribution.Fortune Star's credits include feature film I Do and 30-part drama series Devil Blues, co-produced with leading Singapore broadcaster MediaCorp. Veteran Hong Kong TV producer M
  • Queen Of The Damned reigns over North America

    Queen Of The Damned, Warner Bros' film of the Anne Rice novel, topped the box office in North America over the weekend with an estimated $15.2m take on 2,511 screens. Based on the third book in Rice's Vampire Chronicles, the $30m film is notable as the last film role for R&B star Aaliyah who tragically died in a plane crash last year. She stars as a 6,000 year-old vampire queen facing off with the Vampire Lestat, played by hot British actor Stuart Townsend.Queen Of The
  • Renaissance teams with Catch 23 on Vapor

    RenaissanceFilms, the UK production and sales outfit run by Stephen Evans and AngusFinney, is teaming up with LA-based Catch 23 Entertainment to finance NeilLabute's next film Vapor which he will begin after he has completed the currently-shootingThe Shape Of Things.Based on thefirst novel by Amanda Fillipacchi, which Labute is currently adapting, the filmis a contemporary Pygmalion story set in New York City. Gail Mutrux, Labute'sproducer on Nurse Bettyand The
  • Rings sets new Polish box office record

    The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (international box office total $434m to date) achieved a record-breaking opening in Poland over the weekend. With a three day gross of $1.9m (zlo 8.1m) the film was well ahead of the country's previous highest openings, including local hits Pan Tadeusz ($1.4m in Oct 1999) and Quo Vadis ($1.3m in Sept 2001), and big US titles such as Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone ($1.2m in Jan 2002) and Star War
  • Screen International AFM news round-up

    A round-up of the latest news taken from the Screen International AFM dailies For related stories from the 2002 American Film Market - type: AFM into the search bar at the top of the screendaily homepage.Promark Entertainment Group, Jonathan Kramer's LA-based production and sales group owned by Germany's Das Werk, has closed a $23.5m credit facility with Comerica Entertainment Group (CEG), the entertainment lending division of Comerica Bank, Californi
  • Screen International AFM news round-up

    A round-up of the latest news taken from the Screen International AFM dailies For related stories from the 2002 American Film Market - type: AFM into the search bar at the top of the Screendaily homepage.Lions Gate Films International has sold a slew of territories on its award-winning Monster's Ball for which Oscar contender Halle Berry won the Silver Bear for best actress at the recent Berlin Film Festival.Entertainment Film Distributo
  • Screen International's final AFM news round-up

    Mirovision, the Korean seller and distribution newcomer, has picked up international rights on Deserted Valley, a Vietnamese film which attended the Berlin festival's Forum section and a daring new picture about ageing.Deserted Valley, which charts a multi-layered love story involving two teachers, a school manager and one of their students, is set in rural Vietnam. By woman director, Pham Nhue Giang , Valley is the first from that country to show on-screen
  • Secretary

    Dir: Steven Shainberg. US. 2002. 112min.Audacious, offbeat and darkly humorous, Steven Shainberg's Secretary, based on Mary Gaitskill's critically acclaimed novella Bad Behaviour, tells an utterly bizarre love story between an enigmatic attorney and his highly insecure secretary. Maggie Gyllenhaal renders an exquisite performance as the troubled young woman with masochistic leanings in a movie that teeters on the verge of - but never descends into - sleaze and
  • Shochiku fights back with Samurai epics

    After a production slowdown lasting 18 months, Japanese publicly-quoted movie powerhouse Shochiku is back in business, bringing to the AFM a new slate that includes a brace of high-profile Samurai epics.The Japanese company is making a teaser available on Tasogare Seibei (working title), which is set to be the first full scale Samurai picture by acclaimed director Yamada Yoji, who was previously responsible for the Tora-san and School series of films. It stars Sanada Hiroyuki, f
  • Singapore box office exclaims I Not Stupid

    The Singapore comedy I Not Stupid outclassed its box office rivals during Chinese New Year to become not just the top grossing film over the competitive holiday period, but in record time, also the fourth highest grossing local film ever.Released wide by UIP on 30 prints, the comedy pulled in $492,000 (S$899,619) over its opening 6 day weekend Feb 12 -17 beating Collateral Damage as well as the big Chinese-language Hong Kong releases, Chinese Odyssey, Fatt Choy
  • Sony gets Basic instinct for Travolta thriller

    John McTiernan'sBasic starring John Travolta has finally found a domestic home in Sony PicturesEntertainment. The costly military thriller was fully financed by Intermedia andproduced with Mike Medavoy and Arnie Messer's Phoenix Pictures and OrbitEntertainment Group. Basic, whichwill be released in North America through Columbia Pictures, had been considereda risky proposition for Intermedia since it went into production with nodomestic partner in place. The company was reportedly aski
  • Spain's Quiero appoints Sahun as general manager

    Spanish DTT platform Quiero TV has appointed Luis Sahun its new general manager following former GM Ildefonso de Miguel's resignation Friday (Feb 22). Sahun, a former executive at Quiero majority backer Auna (Retevision), moves up from his position as sub-director general at Quiero. Having directed the beleaguered platform since before its May 2000 launch, De Miguel resigns amid rumours that Auna is in final negotiations to sell off the platform. Quiero has struggled since its i
  • Special Oscar for Sweden's Super-16 inventor

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood has decided to give an Award of Commendation (a special Academy Award) to the Swedish cinematographer Rune Ericson, who invented the Super 16-system in the early 70s. The Award has only been given out 5 times since it was introduced in 1991. The ceremony takes place in Hollywood on Mar 2.Rune Ericson (b. 1924) has worked as a cinematographer on some 60 Swedish features including Master Detective Blomkvist (1947)
  • StudioCanal stalks international rights to Cherish

    StudioCanal isclose to acquiring international rights to Cherish, the $4m comic stalker thriller that premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival this year and was promptly sold toFine Line Features for North America distribution.Produced by Johnny Wow and Mark Burton and directed by Finn Taylor (Dream With TheFishes), the film starsRobin Tunney as a woman wrongly accused of running over a cop who is thenconfined to her apartment awaiting trial with an electron
  • Summit forges ties with Anschutz-backed Walden

    SummitEntertainment has secured a new product line through an agreement reached withCary Granat's Walden Media, one of two film production companies backed byPhillip Anschutz, the Denver-based billionaire who now also controls a sixth ofAmerica's movie theatres.Summit willoffer Walden's first two films: the large-screen 3-D documentaryGhosts Of The Abyssfrom director James Cameron and Andrew Davis' Holes, an adaptation of the teenage novel byLouis Sachar, which won the Ne
  • Summit solidifies Anschutz ties with Crusader

    Hoton the heels of yesterday's alignment with Cary Granat's Walden, SummitEntertainment has closed a long-term agreement with Howard Baldwin's CrusaderEntertainment to represent its product in international territories. BothWalden and Crusader are backed by Denver-based billionaire Phillip Anschutz andhis Anschutz Group which also controls one sixth of the US exhibition market.Firsttitles on the Summit/Crusader deals are the $80m action adventure Sahara, which Paramount Pictures
  • Tesseract starts shooting with Pang in Bangkok

    Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Saskia Reeves have started shooting in Bangkok on The Tesseract, the film adaptation of The Beach writer Alex Garland's second novel.Previously developed at BBC Films, the project is now set up as a Japanese-Thai production directed by Oxide Pang, the Hong Kong-Thai director who won the FIPRESCI prize at Toronto with gangster film Bangkok Dangerous. It marks the first production from Japanese book publisher Artist House, which has begun acq
  • The Cockettes

    Dir: David Weissman & Bill Weber. US. 2002. 99mins.This marvellously evocative documentary was a clear audience favourite at the Sundance Film Festival, and was equally well-received at its Panorama screening in Berlin this week. A bidding war for US rights is underway and international arthouse buyers are also likely to pursue it since its joie de vivre and poignant picture of a time long gone will enchant up-scale audiences. Its long term value as a timeless well-crafted d
  • The Works scores with Bend It Like Beckham

    UK-based sales outfit The Works has closed a slew of deals on its eagerly awaited comedy Bend It Like Beckham, directed by Gurinder Chadha, including a sale to Metropolitan Filmexport in France.The film, which stars Parminder Nagra, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Shaznay Lewis and Juliet Stevenson in a story of an Indian girl with big dreams to play professional soccer, opens in the UK on April 12 on more than 200 screens through Helkon SK."I went to London to see the film, loved
  • THINKFilm puckers up for Last Kiss

    THINKFilm, the new North American distributor founded by Jeff Sackman, has acquired all North American rights to The Last Kiss (L'Ultimo Baccio), Gabriele Muccino's award-winning romantic comedy which shared the world cinema audience award at the Sundance Film Festival last month. The company, under distribution chief Mark Urman, plans to release the film this summer.The film stars Stefano Accorsi, Giovana Mezzogiorno and Stefania Sandrelli and won five David Di Do
  • Till's Signpost points towards Larry Gordon pact

    StewartTill's fledgling Signpost Films, which kicked off its slate with the $55m Bulletproof Monk starring Chow Yun-fat, is now set to addto its pipeline through a pact with heavyweight producer Larry Gordon, theformer 20th Century Fox production chief.It is anticipatedthat Gordon will produce at least one film a year, which Signpost Films willdistribute on a worldwide basis. "This is the one producer thatI've been chasing since we started planning Signpost Films," said CEOTill
  • UK sales upstart Moviehouse comes out smokin'

    New UK sales company, Moviehouse Entertainment has unveiled a $10m supernatural thriller, The Smoking Man, and satirical comedy The Rage In Placid Lake as the first pictures of its 2002 slate.The company is run by former J&M Entertainment head of sales Gary Phillips and Mark Vennis, formerly a director of film financiers Mansfield Associates, with financial backing from the Royal Bank of Scotland.The Smoking Man (the name is that of a character in The X-F
  • UK's Medusa gets Ichi fingers for Miike

    HongKong's Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG) has struck a pan-European deal withthe UK's Medusa to handle Miike Takashi's ultra-violent Ichi TheKiller.The deal seesMedusa take all rights in East and West Europe. While the film may have itsgreatest potential in the home entertainment sector, Ichi has played numerous European festivalsand Medusa is planning to give it limited theatrical outings in as manyEuropean territories as possible. A release in t
  • Veteran Colom quits Spain's Via Digital

    Spanish industry veteran Ramon Colom has resigned from his position as head of contents and programming at Spanish digital satellite platform Via Digital. His resignation, the latest in a series of high-level personnel shuffles at the various holdings of Admira, Telefonica's media subsidiary, is unlikely to come as a surprise. While no replacement for Colom has been announced, Javier Mendez, director of acquisitions at Admira free-to-air broadcaster Antena 3, has been appointed
  • Vortex acquires Emmett's Mark with Roth, Byrne

    Vortex Pictures, the newinternational sales outfit run by Nicolas Chartier and Dean Shapiro, has pickedup international rights to Emmett's Mark, a psychological thriller starring Scott Wolf, TimRoth and Gabriel Byrne. WMA Independent is representing North American rightson behalf of the film-makers, writer/director Keith Snyder and producers BradFuller and Graham Taylor.The movie is the story of ayoung detective who decides to have himself killed at an unknown time ratherthan fa
  • Walking On Water

    Dir: Tony Ayres. Australia. 2002. 90 mins.An exploration of premature death and how to grieve for a loved one who had lived outside of a conventional family, Walking On Water resembles Longtime Companion (1990) and similar independent American films to emerge from the Aids epidemic in the early Nineties; it comes as no surprise to learn that Roger Monk wrote his first draft of the script in 1991. The film has the immediacy and integrity of something born
  • We Were Soldiers

    Dir: Randall Wallace. US. 2002. 140min.The war genre, vigorously energised with such seminal films as Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan and Ridley Scott's visually impressive Black Hawk Down, takes several steps backwards with We Were Soldiers, an old-fashioned, moralistic Vietnam war movie that pays tribute not just to the soldiers in combat but also to the home-front. As directed by Randall Wallace, who also penned the dissatisfying Pearl Harbor, t
  • Winchester crosses Divide, unveils UK releases

    WinchesterFilms is introducing a new action picture from Wind Dancer Films to buyers, hasidentified another film from its relationship with The Donners Co and hasunveiled the first slate for its UK distribution company headed by MickSouthworth.TheWind Dancer project, The Divide, will be directed by Wind Dancer principal Matt Williams (WhereThe Heart Is)and tells the story of a CIA agent who goes on vacation to the Montanamountains with his son, only to get involved in a d